Leckey documents the racing action, with a basic primer on some of the fundamentals of land speed racing and what makes the Bonneville Salt Flats a unique testing ground for top speed runs. And 2008 was a monumental year for the famed Salt Flats, with the racing conditions unparalleled in a generation and 12 miles of course ready for records to fall.
The ‘star’ of the film is none other than Motorcycle USA’s own contributing editor, Rocky Robinson, a former holder of the title World’s Fastest Rider (read Rocky’s monthly LSR feature Salt Addiction). The film focuses on Rocky and his Ack Attack team’s campaign to reclaim the ultimate LSR record for motorcycles, which it continues to battle over with the rival BUB Streamliner and its rider AMA Flat Track great Chris Carr (the current record-holder).
Narrator Tory Belecci does a solid job in the film. Most readers are familiar with his work as a regular on the Dicsovery Channel show Mythbusters. Incidentally, the Landspeed Shootout aired on that very cable network, in part explaining the short-for-a-feature documentary running time of 50 minutes.
Still there’s plenty of drama packed in between the opening and closing credits. And Robinson’s story-line isn’t the only one, with the film following the progress of three other teams of the two and four-wheeled variety. LSR is an odd sport, with plenty of characters, and Leckey’s film shows the old Salts in their element – making the trek out to the middle of nowhere to break records that will net them no reward save the knowledge that they were the fastest. Many of these LSR outfits have been trying to break specific records for literally decades, and each has a story to tell. Take the Nish family and its Royal Purple four-wheeled streamliner, which has attempted to break a legendary record set by the Summers brothers and their Goldenrod streamliner way back in 1965.
The Bonneville salt, the focal point of world land speed racing as man and machine reach for the limits.
How did things turn out? We won’t give away all the movie, but let’s just say the racing at Bonneville that year didn’t come without serious casualties. Two of the riders required a medivac to Salt Lake City, more than 100 miles away. Two others found glory, but not without a lot of trial and error.
If there is a complaint with the film, it’s the fact that it’s already dated. Robinson’s record was broken the very next year (uncharacteristically quick in LSR terms) by Carr and the BUB team. I personally would have liked to see the film mine a little deeper into the rivalry between the Ack Attack and BUB squads. But that’s somewhat of a selfish reason, as a motorcyclist wanting to see the focus on the two-wheelers and as a journalist who got to witness first-hand perhaps the best LSR motorcycle streamliner battle back in 2006 (Bonneville Streamliner Battle). Back then the Ack and BUB teams both broke the world record at the same meet, and yet neither could claim to be the fastest bike through the measured mile as the dark horse E-Z-Hook Streamliner took that honor, though it crashed in the process. The biggest story in land speed racing, at least of the two-wheeled variety, is whether Carr or Robinson will be the first man to hit 400 mph, the threshold that history will remember. Now that would make for a compelling film, too…
For now, LSR fans will enjoy Landspeed Shootout. It is an exhaustive accounting of an historic LSR meet that deserved to be preserved. Participants, gearheads or those just looking for an intro to the salty sport will all relish the taste. Priced at $19.99 Landspeed Shootout is available now at www.landspeedshootout.tv.